Beginning Thursday, August 18 and going until Wednesday, August 23, I participated in a silence retreat put on by The Meditation Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was the first time in many years that I've been a participant in such a retreat rather than one of the leaders. It was a wonderful and powerful experience.
The retreat was led by two highly experienced teachers, Swami Ma Radha Bharati and Jim Nelson. Both have led many such retreats in the past and are delightful and knowledgeable.
The heart of the retreat consisted of five full days of silence, during each of which there were morning hatha yoga sessions, four one-hour silent meditation periods, two one-hour subtle-body practice sessions, and ample time for personal needs and quiet reflection.
Not just a retreat of verbal quiet--this was a true intensive sadhana retreat where the practices and silence interacted synergistically to deepen the silence.
Over the days I felt the inner-quiet grow within my mind. Where in my usual life I fill my time with constant thought, talk and activity, this retreat was a blessed relief from all of that. No political news. No external entertainment. No business. Only introspection. Only cultivating inner quiet.
There were some rough spots. At times I wanted to talk, to read the news. Resisting those temptations enabled peacefulness to expand within my awareness.
Then it ended. But the retreat left me with a deeper sense of connection with myself and direct experience of how much the constant stimulation of my "normal life" distances me from that connection.
As the old saying goes: Silence is golden. I highly recommend participating in a silence retreat.